Bulgarian Government Resigns

Bulgaria has maintained very good fiscal disciple over the last several years – but at the expense of services and social benefits. Finally, Bulgaria’s citizens have said “enough is enough.” They rallied in mass across the country to protest rising energy costs, and the government responded today by resigning.

Please pray that Bulgarians would look to God for the way forward, and that his peace would govern the country.

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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,700 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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People of Peace in Practice

Earlier this year I wrote about people of peace through the lens of Luke 10. This video is another way to think about people of peace from a practical perspective:

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Church Planting Movements and Discovery Bible Studies

The underlying theme of Luke 10 is that people need to meet Jesus. This is the why Jesus sent the 72 disciples ahead of him “to every town and place he was about to go” (verse 1). The disciples’ job was to prepare people of peace and their families to meet Jesus (verses 5-7).

People still need to meet Jesus today. But where will they meet him? In dreams and visions, to be sure. But the most certain place for people to meet Jesus is in the pages of the Bible, where “they will all be taught by God” (John 6:45).

This is why the fourth CPM transition point of coaching people of peace to lead Discovery Bible Studies for their family and friends is so important – it is a proven way to help whole families meet Jesus for themselves.

Questions for discussion:

  1. What are the benefits of a person of peace leading his or her family and friends in a Discovery Bible Study?
  2. What makes it hard to coach a person of peace to lead his or her family and friends in a Discovery Bible Study?
  3. How can you or are you introducing people of peace and their family and friends to the Discovery Bible Study process?
  4. What other lessons are you learning about coaching a person of peace to lead a Discovery Bible Study for his or her family and friends?

______________________________

Discovery Bible Study Format

Source: David L. Watson (see David’s blog and his list of Scripture passages from Creation to Christ for use with people of peace, their families and friends.)

Group Interaction
1. What are you thankful for this week?
2. What needs do you have?
3. How can we help meet those needs?
4. What are some of the needs of specific people around you?
5. How can we help meet those needs?

Accountability
1. What did we learn last time we met?
2. How did you apply what we learned last time?
3. With whom did you share last week’s lesson?

Bible Study
1. Read the Bible passage
2. Paraphrase the Bible passage
3. Apply the Bible passage:
+ What does this teach us about God?
+ What does this teach about people in general and you specifically?
+ If this is true, how would you obey it?

Wrap-up
1. With whom do you plan to share what you just learned?
2. How are we going to meet the needs that we talked about earlier?

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Easter in Bulgaria

Easter is a fascinating part of Bulgarian culture. Consider the following:

  • Bulgarians observe Easter according to the Julian calendar. This year Easter won’t becelebrated until Sunday April 15th – a week after it is celebrated by Protestants and Catholics.
  • The Paschal, or Easter service was officiated last year by 96-year-old Patriarch Maxim, the head of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, at Sofia's St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

  • Whereas American’s might brave an Easter Sunrise Service, Orthodox Bulgarians go to church Saturday night in order to celebrate Christ’s resurrection at the stroke of midnight.
  • Easter is the most important day of the year for the Orthodox Church. Now for the fascinating part: some Bulgarians wonder whether Americans even celebrate Easter! (What’s the most important day of the year in your church?)

But Easter is meant to be more than a fascinating part of any given culture. The resurrection of Jesus is meant to be an integral part of each and every person’s life.

Please pray that God would use the celebration of Easter to compel hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians and their families to “want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, [to become] like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).

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Church Planting Movements and Households

Jesus established the importance of building relationships with entire households in Luke 10:5. However, it is not until the book of Acts that we clearly see the powerful results of doing this:

  • Cornelius and his household are saved (Acts 10, 11:1-18)
  • Lydia and her household are saved (Acts 16:11-15)
  • The Philippian jailer and his household are saved (Acts 16:22-34)
  • Crispus and his household are saved (Acts 18:1-8)

Jesus did not send his disciples out to bring individuals into the Kingdom of God; Jesus sent them out to announce the coming of the Kingdom of God to families. That is why getting to know the family of the person of peace and their close friends is the third major step in the CPM process.

Questions for discussion:

Here are some questions that I hope will help you discover and discuss more about reaching whole families with the Gospel.

  1. What do you think about the distinction between bringing individuals into the Kingdom of God and announcing the coming of the Kingdom of God to families?
  2. What do typical families look like in your community?
  3. How are you getting to know the family and friends of people of peace?
  4. What other lessons are you learning about reaching “households”?

——-

Interested in learning more? Check out the current issue of Mission Frontiers, as well as our Families and Households page.

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Service of Forgiveness

Today is the last Sunday before Lent, and on this day Orthodox clergy and laity kneel one by one and ask one another for forgiveness. This Service of Forgiveness is an important reminder of the emphasis that Jesus placed on forgiving each other:

“For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”(Matthew 6:14-15)

Many Bulgarians will also use this day to ask their parents to forgive them for any wrongs they have committed. For some, however, this day has also become associated with pagan practices, including the kukeri dance.

Please pray that all Bulgarians would come to know Jesus, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14), and that they would then live a life of daily forgiveness.

Cheese and eggs are traditional foods on the Day of Forgiveness

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Church Planting Movements and People of Peace

Luke 10 is one of the places where we learn from Jesus how to make disciples. For example, this is where we learn about the role of prayer (verse 2) and the need to enter into – or gain access to – specific communities and homes (verses 1 and 5).

This is also where we learn about people of peace: “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If a man of peace is there, your peace will rest on him; if not, it will return to you. Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house” (verses 5-7).

People of peace are as diverse as the Samaritan woman and the royal official from Capernaum (John 4), Lydia and the Philipian jailer (Acts 16), and Cornelius (Acts 10) and Crispus (Acts 18). Nonetheless, these examples show that people of peace share two things in common: they are responsive to God and influential in their homes or communities.

Discovering these people of peace in the communities to which we have been sent is the second major step in the CPM process.

Questions for discussion:

Rather than telling you more of my thoughts, let me offer the following questions to stimulate your thinking (and even some discussions) about discovering people of peace:

1. How did the 72 disciples discover people of peace?
2. How do people in the communities you are entering express their spirituality?
3. How can you express your spirituality in ways that people of peace in the communities you are entering can see and understand it?
4. What lessons are you learning about discovering people of peace?

Thank you for praying for Church Planting Movements throughout Bulgaria!

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praying for the lost

Praying for the salvation of all the people of Bulgaria seem to be both abstract and overwhelming. Because of this, you may want to consider praying for people by name, and/or praying in the following more specific ways (adapted from the Navigators):

Pray …

That God would draw them to himself through Jesus: “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me.” (John 6:44-45).

That they would believe that God exists and earnestly seek Him: “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

That they would accept the Bible as the Word of God: “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

That God would restore their spiritual sight: “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

For the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives: “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment … But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come” (John 16:8,13).

That God would send spiritual workers to them: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field'” (Matthew 9:36-38).

That they would repent and experience times of refreshing from God: “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

That they would freely confess Christ Jesus as Lord: “That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Romans 10:9-10).

That they would no longer live for themselves, but for Christ: “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

That they would grow in Christ and overflow with thankfulness: “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2:6-7).

Thank you for praying with us for the salvation of all the people of Bulgaria!

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access ministry

The first thing we learn in Luke 10 about making disciples is that we need to pray. This is how Jesus began his instructions to the 72 disciples: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field” (verse 2). (See full post here.)

The next thing we learn is equally obvious – we need to go: “Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road” (verses 3 and 4).

But what may be less obvious is that we do not go just to leave where we are; rather, we go in order to enter specific towns (verse 1) and specific homes (verse 5). In other words, we go in order to enter into life with the lost and begin to meet their needs (verse 9).

This is the essence of access ministry, which is the first major step in the CPM process.

Questions for discussion

Rather than telling you more of my thoughts, let me offer the following questions to stimulate your thinking (and even some discussions) about entering into life with the lost.

  1. What have you had to leave behind you in order to enter into life with the lost?
  2. What is the significance of entering a town or community and not just a home?
  3. How are you learning more about the community you have entered, including its needs?
  4. What lessons are you learning about access ministry?

Thank you for praying for Church Planting Movements throughout Bulgaria!

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